Export Finance Australia’s Export Line of Credit gave technology business, Seeing Machines, the ability to deliver 8,000 units of the Guardian driver monitoring system to a Thai-based transport logistics company.
Seeing Machines has gone from strength to strength since 2000 when the business was founded as part of an association with Australia National University. Today it is at the forefront of driver monitoring technology and has more than 200 staff and operations across the world; including the US, the UK, South America, Europe and in South East Asia.
“We’re considered a world leader in computer vision technology,” said James Palmer, the chief financial officer of Seeing Machines. “Our solution enables machines to see, understand and assist people. The primary application is driver monitoring systems, and it basically monitors driver attention for drowsiness and distraction using face recognition and eye-tracking. The aim is to reduce accidents and help save lives.”
Commercialisation and global expansion
The first real opportunity to commercialise the Seeing Machines technology came in 2007 as a result of the resources boom. The technology was originally used in heavy mining vehicles to monitor shift workers and reduce accidents and incidents. It was at this time that the organisation started exporting, taking advantage of opportunities in overseas markets which were also benefiting from the growth in the mining sector.
This resulted in an exclusive global partnership with Caterpillar in 2015 through a licencing agreement, which has enabled Seeing Machines to expand its capabilities into other transport areas and expand its footprint globally.
“In 2016 our attention turned to taking the product and making it work for coaches and commercial fleets. That led to the birth of our fleet business,” explained James. “Our products had to be retrofitted to suit the needs of lighter, less rugged vehicles and we also looked at applications for the automotive sector.”
Working as part of a supply chain, Seeing Machines has built relationships with a range of corporates that sell bundled solutions to automotive companies. Its FOVIO software was launched in September 2017 in the General Motors CT6 Cadillac.
“It’s the first car to have level 2 autonomous driving that monitors the driver during hands-free driving to ensure that the driver can take over when conditions change,” said James.
“We are also working to deliver the technology to other automotive brands. The lead times are huge so we will only see the next vehicles with our driver monitoring technology roll off the production lines from 2021.”